Nitrate-N dynamics following improved fallows and maize root development in a Zimbabwean sandy clay loam

R. Chikowo, P. Mapfumo, P. Nyamugafata, G. Nyamadzawo, K.E. Giller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Improved or planted fallows using fast-growing leguminous trees are capable of accumulating large amounts of N through biological N 2-fixation and subsoil N capture. During the fallow phase, the cycling of nutrients is largely efficient. However, there are few estimates of the fate of added N during the cropping phase, after the 'safety net' of fallow-tree roots is removed. Nitrate-N at the end of the fallow phase, which is pre-season to the subsequent crop, was monitored in seven land use systems in successive 20-cm soil layers to 120 cm depth at Domboshawa, Zimbabwe in October 2000. Thereafter, nitrate-N dynamics was monitored during cropping phase until April 2001 at 2-week intervals in plots that had previously 2-year planted fallows of Acacia angustissima and Sesbania sesban, and in a continuous maize control. Pre-season nitrate concentrations below 60 cm soil depth were 10 kg N ha-1 layer-1. There was a flush of nitrate in the S. sesbania and A. angustissima plots with the first rains. Topsoil nitrate had increased to >29 kg N ha-1 by the time of establishing the maize crop. This increase in nitrate in the topsoil was not sustained as concentrations decreased rapidly due to leaching. Nitrate then accumulated below 40 cm, early in the season when maize root length density was still low (
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-195
JournalAgroforestry Systems
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • agroforestry
  • trees

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Nitrate-N dynamics following improved fallows and maize root development in a Zimbabwean sandy clay loam'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this